Now I’ve seen it all!
Odaiko New England just concluded an awesome week hanging out with Shoji, Maz, Kris and Kelvin from On Ensemble, one of the most cutting-edge and dynamic taiko fusion groups out there. I was blown away by their speed, technique, musicality, complexity, precision– but most of all by their interpretation of what taiko performance can be… hard to imagine that such elevated and inspiring art comes from such down-to-earth and inviting people. How fantastic that our members had this opportunity to not only take workshops with them and watch a killer performance, but also to just hang out and talk to them about their own approaches to the challenges and joys of taiko. It can be difficult for a group out here on the East coast to keep its finger on the pulse of a community that is largely based on the West coast, so having the chance to interact with other taiko players with such deep roots in the art form was a real treat for all of us.
Let’s see– the full recap– we spent 6 hours soaking in Kris’s thoughtful expertise on shime technique and timing, trekked 4.5 hours out to New York City to watch their performance at Drom (en route to DC for Obama’s inauguration– crazy!), sang karaoke with Kelvin till the wee hours, debated with Shoji about everything from the pros and cons of “community” to gender roles in cult sci-fi installments (ok, so maybe Shoji leans more toward esoteric than down-to-earth), allowed ourselves to be humbled as Maz, Kelvin, and Shoji all provided feedback on one of our own concerts— I think each and every one of us walked away from that week with a totally new outlook on who we want to be as taiko players and what we aspire to as a taiko group. Come on, Shoji, there’s your answer– community ROCKS!